Bishop Richard F. Stika presided and concelebrants included cathedral rector Father David Boettner, vicar general Monsignor Xavier Mankel, Father Marty Zielinski of Mundelein Seminary. Also concelebrating were Father Bob Hofstetter and Father Pat Garrity as well as the diocese’s director of vocations, Father Michael Cummins, and assistant director of vocations Father David Carter. Cardinal Justin Rigali attended in choir.
Some 30 diocesan priests were present as were deacons and religious in celebrating the sacrament of holy orders for Father Manning, who is from Knoxville and attended Sacred Heart School, Knoxville Catholic High School and the University of Tennessee before completing his graduate studies in theology at Mundelein Seminary in Illinois.
In his homily, Bishop Stika said in the last year since Father Manning’s ordination into the transitional diaconate there have been a number of dramatic moments in the life of the Church, highlighted by the transition from Pope Benedict XVI to Pope Francis.
“We again celebrate a moment of grace in the Church. You Christopher have been called by Christ,” said Bishop Stika, who thanked Father Manning’s parents for the gift of their son.
Bishop Stika noted that Father Manning’s name, Christopher, means “Christ-bearer.”
“You are the presence of Christ in those who come to you and those you minister to,” Bishop Stika said. “Be a Christ-bearer in our midst and do not be afraid to practice what you preach.”
The bishop counseled Father Manning to show mercy and compassion to those who need mercy and compassion and to “be Christ to others.” The bishop also advised that the Church is built on the grace of orders and that joining the priesthood is a “commitment of working together.”
“Let’s do what He tells us to do,” Bishop Stika said.
Bishop Stika also noted that Father Manning will be serving the Church in a diocese that is growing and vibrant, pointing that four more seminarians will enter the transitional diaconate June 22 and a member of the transitional diaconate is to be ordained into the priesthood later this year as the diocese celebrates its 25th anniversary.